Painting by Laurie Larson
Then there was the singer. Notice I said ‘singer’ and not ‘keyboardist/singer’. Fact is that Steve Walsh could probably do or play anything he wanted. He is that “talented”. As a veteran of countless rock tours I could tell within the first 10 minutes of any show that onstage Steve was the engine that propelled Kansas. The guy had pipes for days, he commanded the audience’s attention and worked as hard as any musician I’d ever seen (and I’ve pretty much seen them all). The guy always delivered the goods. Opening for The Rolling Stones in Boulder was a big gig for the band and Kansas hit the ground running - and took no prisoners. To be honest, as much as I liked the band both professionally and personally, it was Steve Walsh that kept me coming back for more. I toured often with Kansas and I don’t think I ever saw a show where Steve didn’t amaze me. He is a special talent and guys like him don’t come down the pike every day. I can say with complete conviction that for me all roads in Kansas have always led to Steve Walsh.
- Neal Preston Studio City, CA
Walsh was in a number of local groups prior to his joining Kansas, most notably a group named "White Clover" which ultimately became Kansas. The band White Clover toured relentlessly and sharpened their brand of distinctively American, hard-rocking progressive music. Kansas and White Clover merged and the group was signed to Don Kirshner's label and newly merged bands decided to go with the name Kansas. Walsh is the only original member of the band to not be from the state of Kansas.
During Walsh's time with the band, Kansas recorded two enormously successful albums, 1976's Leftoverture and 1977's Point of Know Return. With Kansas, Walsh has released 12 studio albums, six live albums, and numerous singles. He has released three solo albums thus far. In 1978 he was invited, as well as Kansas drummer Phil Ehart, to play on Steve Hackett's second solo album, Please Don't Touch. He sang on two of the songs, Narnia and Racing in A.
Walsh left Kansas after 1980's Audio-Visions due to creative differences with the band's primary songwriter Kerry Livgren. Earlier in 1980, he released his first solo album, Schemer-Dreamer, which included bandmates Kerry Livgren, Rich Williams and Phil Ehart, as well as guitarist Steve Morse(who in 1985 would join the revamped Kansas). It contains the popular song Every Step of the Way. In 1982 he formed a rock band called Streets, which released the albums 1st in 1983 and Crimes in Mind in 1985 before disbanding.
As a guest vocalist, Steve Walsh has appeared on numerous other artists' recordings.
Kansas (who had obtained a different vocalist, John Elefante) split in 1984, but reformed in 1985 with Walsh back on board. He remained with the band until his retirement in 2014.
Walsh released his second solo album, entitled Glossolalia, in 2000. In 2003, he joined forces with Daniele Liverani to form the AOR Melodic rock band Khymera. Steve sang lead vocals on their first self-titled album. Adding to this album were Billy Greer and former Streets bandmate Mike Slamer. His third solo album, Shadowman followed in 2005 (reissued in 2007 with bonus tracks), with the collaboration of such musicians as Joe Franco on drums, Joel Kosche on guitars and bass, and David Ragsdale on the re-issued version of the album's bonus tracks.
On June 30, 2014, Steve announced he would retire from Kansas after 41 years. This was publicized through a statement posted on the band's official Facebook page on July 2: "On June 30, 2014, Steve Walsh informed the members of KANSAS that he is resigning from the band. His last performance with KANSAS was August 16, 2014, in Sioux City, Iowa, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. As KANSAS continues on, the band wishes Steve only the best in his future endeavors, and thanks him for the 41 years."
Shortly after the band KANSAS made the announcement that Steve was going to be retiring; Steve made the following statement regarding his decision to retire from the band. This following statement was released on the website MelodicRock.com:
“I'd like to thank all the fans that have come to see me sing in Kansas over the years. Sometimes I had to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn't dreaming that at my age I was still playing in a great band in front of great fans. I'd also like to extend my well wishes to the members. But I'd especially like to thank the crew that we've had now for a while. It's the best group of guys behind the scenes that I've ever worked with. They are most forgiving of us who stand in the bright light, and have done a lot that they really aren't required to do, just to make sure that my comfort and safety are well taken care of. I know there's a lot of different versions out there on why I'm leaving so let me just say that it's time for me to go, and yes, it makes me sad to have to admit that. Thanks again to all of you out there in the seats. I will never forget this. It's been a great party.” ~ Steve Walsh
In 2015, Steve contributed vocals to the latest Radioactive album entitled F4Ur, which was released on April 7 on the song The Piper. Later that year, Steve was a member of 'The Rock Pack' playing November 19, 2015 at The Germain Arena in Fort Meyers, Florida along with other classic rock artists including John Payne of Asia, Bobby Kimball of Toto, Robin Zander of Cheap Trick, Fee Waybill of The Tubes and Mickey Thomas of Starship. In 2016, Steve played concerts in the U.S. and Europe, most notably, 'Rock Meets Classic' along with members of Sweet, Thin Lizzy, Europe and Nazareth. His latest album, Black Butterfly, released in November of 2017, continues to receive substantial worldwide airplay. September 1, 2018 a new book was released about Steve's career, When They Call Out Your Name a complete listing of all of his projects with never before seen photos by iconic rock photographers like Neal Preston.
I was thinking about this show last night. It was at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island possibly in 1983.
The bands were alternating who opened / who closed for the tour.
Our show had Heart opening and we had come specifically for them. Kansas was a bonus but we really didn’t know their work outside of the hits in any great detail.
So Heart finishes up and we were like, “Do you wanna stay or get a jump on the traffic?” so we decided we’d stay for a song or two then leave.
An hour and a half later we stumbled out of the arena with our senses absolutely drunk on what we had just heard and seen.
Kansas destroyed Heart and that’s no easy task as they were firing on all cylinders as well at that time.
After that, I immersed myself in all things Kansas to try and catch up with anything that had slipped past me and became a lifelong fan! - Matt Parish
"With Steve Walsh fronting Kansas - they were one of the most underrated...under estimated bands of all time. They broke mold after mold on their way to some of the most iconic songs of all time." - John Sebastian, Legendary Radio Programmer involved in the creation / inspiration for: Classic Rock, Smooth Jazz/New Age, Eclectic Oriented Rock/AAA and today's more inclusive Country. (Note: John Sebastian's stations included KUPD, WCOZ, KDKB, KHJ, KLSK and KSLX as a program director...many more as a rock consultant...more Major market clients than Lee Abrams and Jeff Pollack combined.)
"Being a fan of progressive music, I played lots of it on my Washington, DC radio shows on WHFS, WAVA and DC101. New, one-of-a-kind adventurous, free-form bands and artists were always on our radar and Kansas with Steve Walsh got my attention from the very beginning. Steve is one of those tremendously innovative and gifted musicians who blends genres and creates brilliance. When I first heard him on songs like 'Carry On Wayward Son', 'Point of Know Return,' and 'Dust In The Wind,' he incorporated elements of prog rock, atmospheric, tonal paintings, hard rock and classical. I've always appreciated this level of originality and I recently relistened and rediscovered some of Steve's signature work. It stands the test of time. Great stuff !!" - Cerphe Colwell, Iconic DC DJ who discovered countless artists, and was the first to play Bruce Springsteen on the air.
“Steve Walsh's sound makes a significant impression on me each time I hear a new recording. His live performances contain a rock and roll maturity, polished by decades of honing his craft all the while still exuding youthful creativity and energy.” - Bruce Franks
The Kansas frontman is rarely mentioned among the greatest rock vocalists, though he has a very distinct voice and incredible range and control. Perhaps it’s due to the heavy-handed, earnest nature of some of the band’s biggest songs – but if we’re going with pure vocal ability, few come close to the singer in the versatility department as heard on hits from “Carry On Wayward Son” to “Dust in the Wind.” http://www.vh1.com/news/52976/10-most-underrated-classic-rock-singers/
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